Mental health nursing workforce under pressure as numbers slump By Mary Griffin The number of mental health nurses in England has fallen, leaving the remaining nursing workforce to ‘bear the brunt’ of increasing pressures, the RCN has warned. Health and Social Care Information Centre workforce statistics reveal the number of qualified nurses working in psychiatry has fallen by 10.8%, from 41,320 in 2010 to 36,870 in 2015. While the total number of nurses working in community psychiatry remained relatively stable (down from

15,986 to 15,826), the total number in ‘other psychiatry’ – mainly hospital units – fell steadily, from 25,334 in 2010 to 21,044 in 2015, a 17% drop. RCN professional lead for mental health Ian Hulatt said: ‘It is a perfect storm. We have lost a lot of band 7 and band 8s, where jobs have been downbanded or lost. ‘I am aware of a specialist unit for people with personality disorders that currently has six band 5 vacancies.’ Mr Hulatt said it is worrying that ‘firefighting has become the modus operandi for most services,’

adding that the remaining nurses bear the brunt of staff shortages and rising demand. RCN research published last month shows there are 10,000 nurse vacancies in London. Mental health trusts are among those with the highest nurse vacancy rates, including South West London and St George’s Mental Health NHS Trust, which had the joint highest rate, at 30%. City University London professor of collaborative mental health nursing Alan Simpson said research by the university found widespread concern about the impact of cuts and changes in service provision being implemented to meet austerity targets. He added: ‘Mental health nurses and other staff are now under intolerable pressures as we are returning to caseloads and demands on services not seen since the 1980s.’


Deaths in care

Crash patients give back to wards Nurses who cared for two teenagers injured in the Alton Towers ‘Smiler’ rollercoaster crash have thanked their former patients for donating nearly £7,000 to their hospital. The team at Royal Stoke University Hospital were delighted to accept £6,900, raised at a gala dinner and presented by Leah Washington and Joe Pugh, pictured. The pair, both from Barnsley, raised the money for the three units at the hospital

that cared for them last June, after their carriage collided with another on the theme park ride. Ms Washington had an amputation above the knee, followed by physiotherapy, while Mr Pugh had surgery on his hands and knees. University Hospitals of North Midlands Charity head Steve Rushton thanked them and those who supported them to raise a ‘fantastic amount’, which will be split between the wards.

The warning comes as a Freedom of Information request by Liberal Democrat mental health spokesperson Norman Lamb revealed a leap in the number of mental health patients dying in NHS care in the past three years. NHS England figures show there were 8,139 serious incidents in England’s mental health trusts in 2014/15, up 34% from 2012/13. The number of unexpected deaths rose by 21% (from 1,412 to 1,713) over the same period, while suicides and suspected suicides increased by 26% (from 595 to 751). A Department of Health spokesperson said that there has been a greater investment in mental health care than ever before, with an estimated £11.7 billion last year. He added: ‘Having the right number of staff is also vital, which is why the number of mental health nurse training places is also increasing.’

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Mental health nursing workforce under pressure as numbers slump.

The number of mental health nurses in England has fallen, leaving the remaining nursing workforce to 'bear the brunt' of increasing pressures, the RCN...
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